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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Schrift 18: Walther's other 13 Theses- Inspiration, Luther's Doctrine

      This concludes from Part 17 (Table of Contents in Part 1) a series presenting an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's major essay on the Inspiration of Holy Scripture in the Missouri Synod's chief theological journal, Lehre und Wehre. — Walther is noted for his "Thirteen Theses" on the doctrine of Election of Grace, or Predestination.  But the following 13 Theses should be elevated to a similar level of importance in the Lutheran Church today.  To preface this listing, I repeat Walther's statements introducing Luther's own words (see Part 7):
“There is no essential aspect in the doctrine of inspiration of our systematicians that could not be substantiated by Luther's clear statements.  Let  us then, for the following main aspects of the doctrine of inspiration of our dogmatists, obtain the evidence from Luther's writings:”
Walther's Thirteen Theses – Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration

I. All of Holy Scripture is a work of the Holy Spirit. (Parts 8 & 9)

II. There is a specific difference between a prophet in the true sense and a worldly and indirectly enlightened pure teacher. (Part 10)

III. In the Holy Scriptures, nothing is in vain. (Part 10)

IV. The Scripture is free of error. (Part 11)

V. The Scripture is nowhere in contradiction with itself. (Part 12)

VI. At each letter and tittle of Scripture is infinitely much located, and the whole Church is bound to all of them. (Part 12)

VII. The simplistic presentation peculiar to Scripture, and the description therein of minor things, God himself has the Holy Spirit as author. (Part 13)

VIII. Even where the Scriptures report on sexual matters which are offensive to the natural sentiment, the Holy Spirit himself is the correspondent. (Part 13)

IX. Also the lack of proper order, which seems to be found here and there in the Scriptures, has its reason in the wisdom of God the Holy Spirit. (Part 14)

X. Also what the Scriptures say of Natural History is said by God the Holy Spirit Himself. (Part 15)

XI. Also the chronological information in the Holy Scriptures is of divine origin. (Part 15)

XII. The interpretation of the Old Testament given by Christ and the Apostles is the authentic interpretation of the Holy Spirit Himself. (Part 16)

XIII. Even where one cannot understand the Scriptures, one must contemplate and treat them with holy awe and confess one's ignorance. (Part 17)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 
      Let no Lutheran teacher of today deceive you – this is Luther's doctrine.  Let no Lutheran teacher deceive you concerning "Lutheran Orthodoxy" or the "dogmaticians", for all their essential teachings on this doctrine were established by Luther. And Walther is to be credited as the leader in presenting Luther's doctrine to our modern age.  Those who purposely avoid (or twist) Walther and claim Luther for their cause are demonstrated to be weak at best, false teachers at worst.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Schrift 17: #13 Even if cannot understand…; Walther's Warning; Franzmann's smokescreen, LC-MS questions Scripture

[2019-02-18: added missing underlining]
      This continues from Part 16 (Table of Contents in Part 1) in a series presenting an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's major essay on the Inspiration of Holy Scripture in the Missouri Synod's chief theological journal, Lehre und Wehre. — Walther reaches the last of his Thirteen Theses, his testimony for the Lutheran Church that was in sore need of a clear confession of Luther's clear teaching. And later below, to show how this Doctrine of Scripture is still a burning issue in the LC-MS…  But for now, let us first listen to Martin Luther… and C.F.W. Walther's great warning:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Translation by BackToLuther; all highlighted text, text in square brackets and in red font are my additions. Underlining follows Walther.
(continued from Part 16)
Lehre und Wehre, vol. 32, March, p. 75-76, "Foreword" by C.F.W. Walther

XIII. Even where one cannot understand the Scriptures, one must consider and treat them with sacred awe and confess one's ignorance.
“Therefore we should not allow the statements about Christ [of the Old Testament], concerning whom Jacob began to speak, to be torn apart. He stated that Christ would be the Lord of the heathen and that peoples throughout the world would listen to Him. Let us cling to the resolution to speak about Christ and not invent a hysteron proteron (foreign figures) as an appendage. But if understanding fails us, let us leave the office of instructor to the Holy Spirit. Only let us not approve of that confusion of the text. For I shall prefer to confess that I do not understand it.” (Genesis, 1545. II, 2912-2913 § 176 [StL 2, 1978 § 176; LW 8, 247)
Finally, we repeat Luther's saying here: “For God’s Word is not to be toyed with. If you cannot understand it, take off your hat to it.” (Exposition of a Passage from Jeremiah 23, 1526. VI, 1396 §41 [StL 6, 872-3 § 41; NOT in LW]) — [see also Confessional Lutheran 1960 p 57]
Thus we have hereby presented Luther's doctrine of inspiration in his own words from the most varied periods of his life and work. Hereby compare, among others, Luthardt's  and Cremer's relative judgment. [see parts 2 and 7 above] Luthardt dares to write, that the (Page 76) accusing of Holy Scripture of many errors thus represents Prof. Volck's “the truly religious view in the sense of Luther”!  Cremer asserts with Luthardt that Luther believes so little in the inspiration of the Scriptures that he knew rather to speak “of hay, straw, and stubble, which the prophets have lost in their own good thoughts”. In fact, both Luthardt and Cremer want to understand thus of the prophets, whose writings constitute a major part of the Holy Scriptures!  
As little as it is to honor these learned, even Lutheran, theologians, it is enough that they hereby reveal how little they are at home in Luther's writings and how little they are reliable in their historical statements even on such important questions, this is by no means the most terrible thing. Sup­pose that – it pains us to write it down – Luther actually regarded the Bible as a book containing all manner of error, out of which only the scholars could lift the kernel of divine truth, that position would rob the Bible Christians only of Luther. But it is a most horrible thing that the theologians of the Modernist faith, including the Modernist Lutherans (without exception, it would seem!), declare it to be a fact no longer debatable that the Scriptures contain, besides the 'good thoughts' of their authors, also 'hay, straw, and stubble,' which 'the fire consumes.'  That stand robs the Bible Christians not only of a man whom they had heretofore regarded as a faithful witness of the truth, but it robs the Bible Christians of the Bible itself, a lamp to their feet and a light on their path forever, their rod and their staff in the dark valley of affliction, in short, of God's Word, their consolation in the terrors of sin, their hope in the darkness of their last hour! [ref. this blog post, part 3a; Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pg 306]
Luther writes in his Great Confession of  the sacrament on the Alloeosis of Zwingli: "Beware, beware, I say, of the alloeosis! For it is a devil's mask, for at last it manufactures such a Christ after whom I certainly would not be a Christian; namely, that henceforth Christ should be no more and do no more with His sufferings and life than any other mere saint. For if I believe this that only the human nature has suffered for me, then Christ is to me a poor Savior, then He Himself indeed needs a Savior. In a word, it is unspeakable what the devil seeks by the alloeosis.” (Cited in the Formula of Concord, Art. VIII, p. 682, § 40 [, Triglotta p. 1029])  We must say of this so-called ‘divine-human nature of Scripture,’ as the term is understood by modern theologians:

Beware, beware, I say, of this 'divine-human' Scripture. It is a devil's mask, for at last it manufactures such a Bible according to which I certainly would not care to be a Bible Christian; namely, that henceforth the Bible should be no more than any good book, a book which I would have to read with constant scrutiny in order not to be led into error. For if I [Page 77] believe that the Bible also contains errors, it is to me no longer a touchstone, but itself stands in need of one. In a word, it is unspeakable what the devil seeks with this 'divine­-human' Scripture.”
We know well what awaits our seemingly excessive explanation. One will despise it and deride as a sign of a zeal not according to knowledge, if not worse. But woe to us if we are here, where it is not even just this or that doctrine of the Scriptures, but where it says: If the foundations be destroyed” (Ps. 11:3), “Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof” (Ps. 137:7), if we are silent even though we do not belong to the scholars but want to be Christians! Then the stones would have to cry out. — God have mercy upon His poor Christendom in this last age of distress and danger [ref. this blog].         W[alther].
= = = = = = = = = =   End of essay. Series continues in Part 18  = = = = = = = = = = =
For those who want to now read Walther's essay without my commentary and polemics, it is available to view directly >>>  HERE  <<<.

Luther and Walther teach: 
Holy Scripture is Divine onlyNOT “divine-human”. 
Sola Scriptura!
      I have worked over a period of 6 months preparing this series – translating, researching sources, preparing blog posts.  But all my work was energized by Walther's passionate plea to essentially go “Back to the Bible”.  Walther not only taught this, he preached it.  I would end this series by quoting from one of Prof. Manteufel's references using Pastor Joel Baseley's translation from Walther's Occasional Sermons (Casual Predigton), p. 139:
“O precious book! O book of books! You are a still pool of water on earth in which are reflected all the stars in the unseen heavens. You are the comforting letter from our eternal home, sent to us in this foreign land. You are the key of heaven for weary pilgrims who wander through this world filled with error, doubt, sins, fear and need. You are the Word of our God, our heavenly Father!” — C.F.W. Walther
      Andrew Dickson White called Walther's Missouri Synod a "late survival of an ancient belief based upon text-worship".  Would to God that LC-MS preachers preached like this!  Walther attacked the famous "Lutheran" theologians of Germany for their unbelief.  Today, he would be attacking the teachers of the LC-MS.

Franzmann's (& LC-MS) “Smokescreen” ("Read More »" disabled)
      My hope that the LCMS will come back, Back to the Bible, was recently demolished (again) by the upcoming CPH book Breath of God Yet Work of Man.  This book is promoted as the first in the series entitled "Lutheran Leadership Development Program" (LLDP) and promoted (Archive; also here) for the "Lutheran Churches of the West" who
"are exploring if the ILC can be a welcome home for them. Other church bodies in the West, who have been persecuted for not conforming to the views of Western society, likewise are seeking refuge in the ILC. In order to help the ILC meet these opportunities… the establishment of the Lutheran Leadership Development Program (LLDP)." (ILC 26th Conference Workbook, 25-28 September 2018)"
Gen. 1-3: 'symbolic'
LC-MS model theologian
While the stated purpose of this book is refreshing, yet rather than follow Martin Luther, it follows Martin Franzmann (Look Inside p. 7) as its model theologian for "Inerrancy", and so establishes again that its confession is weak at best, false at worst. How can this be since Franzmann explicitly said of the 'verbally inspired, infallible Word' in his noted essay "Seven Theses…"(p. 244): "This is Biblical and Lutheran and not to be surrendered."? It is because Franzmann also defended the following position on Genesis 1-3 (p. 22
"[Genesis 1-3] in general is a ‘symbolic’ or concrete representation of divine truths concerning the fall of the first man."
Franzmann's defense of a “symbolic” Genesis 1-3 only threw fuel on the fire of doubt in the LC-MS (and in me 45 years ago) about the truthfulness of this clear account of the Bible.  Franzmann's "defense" of the "verbally inspired, infallible Word" appears to be actually using what Dr. Armand Boehme calls a "Smokescreen Vocabulary". — The LC-MS standpoint is further confirmed in this new book in several places available for public viewing:
  1. in the Foreword to this book (Look Inside, p. xviii) by Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr. who characterizes its "narrative" as giving "consideration of the nature and character of Scripture… to capture its divine and human elements".  
  2. On p. 384 (Look Inside): "one might ponder if Genesis 1… may have a deeper, Eastern meaning." [Yet the LC-MS claims it holds to the Brief Statement, § 5.]
  3. p. 385 (Look Inside): "Lutherans need not fear that Luther's hermeneutics are somehow sectarian or contrived." [Why would Lutherans fear this?... maybe the authors do fear this?]
  4. p. 431 (Look Inside): "You can trust a physicist" ["Science" wins over a clear passage of Scripture, even while they claim to defend the clarity of Scripture, p. 238 f. etc.]
The title of this book says it all: the Bible is a "Work of Man".  —  If that is not enough evidence of the LC-MS teaching of a "divine-human" Scripture, one of the chapters in the new CPH textbook on Systematic Theology Confessing the Gospel (Look Inside, p. xiv-xv) is entitled:
“The Attributes of Scripture: A Human Book
      Enough of today's LC-MS!  Just listen to Martin Luther… and C.F.W. Walther.  The next concluding post (Part 18) is to aid those who would do that… and so be Lutheran.